Thursday, April 30, 2020
The number of states that have recently passed legislation to allow remote notarization for estate planning documents during the ongoing pandemic is quickly growing. Massachusetts is number 45 with Governor Baker signing the bill into law on April 27th.
There are certain guidelines that must be followed.
- The allowance only lasts until three days after the end of the state of emergency, which has been extended to May 18th.
- Only attorneys and paralegals under their supervision may notarize estate planning documents: wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, and HIPAA releases.
- All remote notarization sessions must be recorded and the recording saved for 10 years.
- The notary must sign a supplemental affidavit verifying a number of facts, including that the person signing the documents and all the witnesses were in the state of Massachusetts.
- The notarization is not effective until the notary receives and compiles all original signature pages, notarizes the document, and completes supplemental affidavit.
For the immediate future this is great news, but the question remains: why is this law not permanent? Also, why do all the witnesses need to be in Massachusetts?
See Laura Goodman & Harry S. Margolis, Remote Notarization Law Now Available in Massachusetts, Margolis.com, April 28, 2020.
Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.